Tennmax Lasagna BGA Cooler

   There's no doubt about it, heat and silicon do not make good playmates. Higher temperatures speed up electro-migration and shorten the life and performance of not just your CPU but any silicon-based component within your PC. I'm sure that by now you've notices that the latest mainboards come with heatsinks surrounding voltage regulators and covering at least the Northbridge of the core logic chipset. As frequencies increase so does power consumption and as power consumption increases more heat is generated. Many if not most of the latest graphics accelerators have also been endowed with some form of heat exchange whether it be a heatsink alone or in combination with a small fan of some sort. Those of us without the wherewithal to afford the latest and greatest graphics cards and the desire to eek a few extra frames out of Quake or Unreal see graphics engine overclocking as a realistic means of achieving that goal but at what cost. I personally have fried more than one graphics card so I tend to be a lot more cautious about pushing their limits now. 

   Tennmax has been putting out graphics card cooling devices for about as long as they've been required and so we decided to take a look at their Lasagna BGA line of chip coolers. At 40 x 40 x 11 mm, Lasagna BGA Coolers fit perfectly on just about all advanced 3D/2D accelerator graphics boards and offer the device in three different configurations. Lasagna BGA (type 0)Coolers use special thermal adhesive tape, or use retention push pins (type A or B) to securely affix the device to your chipset. It's slim multi-leaf design embeds the fan within the sink for a very low (11mm) profile which easily fits between the AGP and 1st PCI slot.  The cooler uses a standard 12v. drive connector for power but uses a pass-through and offers fairly long leads so as not to be too intrusive.

We put the type B Lasagna BGA cooler to the test on a Matrox G400 OEM 32MB AGP card first, because we noticed that the G400 seems to run inordinately hot (OEM singlehead cards are not equipped with cooling fans but rather an oversized heatsink) and secondly because there are numerous means of overclocking the G400. For our tests we used the simplest and safest of means for overclocking the G400, the company's own Matrox Tweak Utility.

    Using a PICO TH-03 Thermistor affixed approximately 1mm above the back of the G400 card directly over the G400 chip, we took readings after 10 minutes of running Quake II @1025x768 in demo mode on a K6-2 450MHz system with 128MB of system memory. We ran the tests first with the heatsink accompanying the card from the factory at it's default clock speed of 125MHz, 103% of default or 128.75MHz, 105% of default or 131.25MHz and 108% of default or 135MHz. At the 108% setting the card failed after about 3 minutes and received no reading.
   Installing the Lasagna BGA cooler is simply child's play but removing the glued on heatsink requires a certain amount of care. First and foremost it is important to let the card cool down to room temperature. You must then gently but firmly prize the heatsink up with a wide tipped flathead screwdriver making sure you stay away from any of the printed circuitry. It is also important to remove any traces of the old glue that remain adhered to the chip as this will negatively affect the cooling properties of the Lasagna. We scraped the glue off with a single-edged razorblade ant then wiped it down with fingernail polish remover. We then spread out a thin coat of thermal paste to insure there were no gaps between the chip and cooler, pushed down on the pins and voila!, were ready to replace the card and begin the second wave of testing. I was genuinely surprised to see the temperate drop a full 10 Celsius at the default setting. I also noticed that the system temperature stay around 4 cooler as well. The chart below shows the temperature readings we took after 10 minutes at each increment in demo mode.

   While most assuredly not for everyone the Lasagna BGA cooler is an excellent means of thermal management for overclocking your graphics card.  On the plus side it drastically reduces heat on your graphics card and lowers your overall system temperature somewhat.  This will enable you to push your graphics accelerator to it's limits snagging every last frame your system can handle.  On the minus side; the $19.00 price tag is a bit on the steep side unless you're a serious overclocker and the unit requires access to a drive connector although Tennmax did use some foresight by including a pass-through.  So, if you're looking to tweak your graphics subsystem to its limits you may want to take a good hard look at the Tennmax Lasagna BGA Cooler.  You can find the style that best matches your card by visiting their web site at http://www.tennmax.com

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